I'm a day away from helping my 18 year old move into his own apartment. I remember the day he was born and feeling this completely overwhelming feeling of responsibility. I know that's a normal sentiment but this was paralyzing. For the first six weeks of his life it made me a little miserable. I was trying to enjoy him but I felt like there was no way I was capable of being the mom he needed, that it was my job to make sure he made it to heaven one day. One day I sat down with him in my arms and said a prayer, just giving him to God and making a decision to trust that I could do my best as a mother but I had to let go of the crushing responsibility for things that were out of my control.
When he was a year old I started him in a mother's day out program a couple of days a week. Every time I dropped him off I would get on my knees and hug him tight and say a prayer for him, for me, always practicing letting go. Until he was 16 years old and started driving himself to school I would say a prayer out loud for him just before he got out of the car, practicing. When he was around 8 or 9 I began to teach him about critical thinking and that he needed to stop whining and begging for the things he wanted but to argue respectfully. I am not writing this as advice, trust me there are times that I wish me saying "because I told you so" and him saying "because I want to" was the way we communicated. We chose different. We chose to talk, and talk, and talk some more.
I am not the kind of parent that threatens to stalk him and force my thoughts and beliefs on him. We determined that we would parent in way that gave him a voice. This came a little late, my poor stepsons were raised as Old Testament boys, under law, my boys have been raised New Testament style, lots of grace. I believe this has empowered him to make his own decisions and think for himself, yes that's scary. We chose to parent through communicating in a deep meaningful way and have hoped that through mutual respect he would make wise choices, also with the understanding that all choices have some consequence, some good, some bad. I have sat on the porch swing with him more hours than I could possibly count. I have cried until my head felt like it would explode when he chose things that broke my heart. I have held him while he cried of a broken heart.
This boy of mine is certainly hard to let go of. I want him to fly, to live with the passion I see exuding from him. I want him to experience God the way I have but not because of me, in spite of me. I want him to love others and himself with abandon and take care of both. I want him to know what it feels like to be free to succeed and free to fail and that he is no less or more loved after a failure or a success. I want him to be the one that controls the definition of success for his own life but if he chooses to take his mom's advice it would be this.....truly knowing and giving love. That the purpose of great gain is great service to mankind. Having much means giving much. Living the passion you were created with and always going to the trouble to uncover what sparks that passion.
So now I am once again letting go. I have spent 18 years giving him direction and advice, always available if he wants more. But now I am going to move into a different role, a dance partner. That is the nature of loving adult relationships. This life we live is a dance and I will enjoy spending the rest of my years dancing with my Jackson, he's such a good dancer. He has become a best friend, a confidant, an unbelievable advisor. I may cry for a while as I let go of my little boy but the tears will soon be replaced with a sparkle of pride because I have had the priveledge of being one of his dance teachers. May he know how to listen to the rhythm of the music and move with grace and enjoy every moment he has on the dance floor. I love you Jackson. I hope when you are scanning the sidelines for partners to dance with, you choose me every once in a while.